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UK defence cuts to force Sea King 7 life extension

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SOURCE:Flight International

UK defence cuts to force Sea King 7 life extension



The UK could be set to extend the service lives of its Royal Navy Westland

Sea King 7 airborne surveillance and control system helicopters until 2022,

because funding pressures look likely to force the deferral of its successor

Maritime Airborne Surveillance and Control programme.

Envisaged as a manned, network-enabled asset capable of providing assured

airborne surveillance and command-and-control services to the RN, MASC will

be the third component of the UK's future carrier strike capability,

alongside two CVF-class aircraft carriers and Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint

Strike Fighter - referred to in the UK as the Joint Combat Aircraft.

The previous planning assumption for MASC had been to migrate the Sea King

7's Thales Searchwater 2000 airborne early warning radar and Cerberus

mission suite into 12 new-build AW101 Merlin airframes with minimum

re-engineering. The current aircraft had been slated for replacement from

2018, but with intense pressure on equipment funding in the Ministry of

Defence's current planning round, the MASC programme is likely to slip by

five years.

The MoD and the RN are now planning a capability sustainment programme for

the Sea King 7 that will maintain its operation and support through to a

revised out-of-service date of 2022. The effort is expected to include

communication system enhancements, such as the addition of twin VHF radios

to meet Civil Aviation Authority requirements, plus the introduction of Mode

5/S identification friend-or-foe equipment.

The sustainment package could also include upgrades being embodied or

studied in advance of a planned Sea King HC4 utility and potential ASaC

system deployment to Afghanistan this year, including a defensive aids

suite, night-vision goggles, uprated Rolls-Royce Gnome 1400-1T engines and

Carson main rotor blades.

AgustaWestland has, meanwhile, delivered the RN's first of two Sea Kings to

have been modified to the ASaC 7 standard to replace two aircraft lost in a

mid-air collision off Iraq in March 2003, killing seven personnel.

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:blink::blink: I find it strange that the UK doesn't contemplate using a plane with a radar for AEW duty instead of those helicopters with those strange radars hanging out... I mean, the new carriers look like they could manage to launch, land and store E-2 Hawkeyes... The french navy is also after it AFAIK...

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no catapults planned atm.

& if we don't have the budget for new choppers we don't have it for E-2s ...

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No catapults?!? :blink::blink: If the UK gives up on the acquisition of the F-35s, and no other development of VTOL or STOVL planes occur (somehow I don't think they'll buy Yak-141 Freestyles... :no::rofl: ) then they should contemplate adding the ability to launch and recover conventional-flight planes...

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The carrier design has space earmarked for catapults in the event that they will ever be needed (more likely electromagnetic than steam though).

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I think the biggest problem in fitting catapults is finding somewhere to generate and store sufficient steam (remember this is a gas turbine powered ship not oil or nuclear) however it is an option and has been designed into the project. However what the Navy would like and what it can get the money for are two completely different things.

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